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Conciliatory mediation in civil disputes (mediation)



On 15 July 2008, the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania adopted the Law on Conciliatory Mediation in Civil Disputes drafted by a working group set up by the Minister of Justice.

Conciliatory mediation in civil disputes (mediation) is a form of alternative dispute resolution involving a neutral third party, who is a conciliatory intermediary (mediator). The Law stipulates that mediation may be used to settle civil (i.e. family and other) disputes that are subject to jurisdiction of a civil court. Parties may use this form of dispute resolution either before the dispute is referred to court (extrajudicial mediation) or during trial (judicial mediation).

Mediation takes place under a written agreement between the disputing parties. The parties jointly appoint a mediator whose principle task is to help them settle the dispute amicably. A distinctive feature of mediation compared to other forms of alternative dispute resolution (such as arbitration, etc.) is the fact that the power of settling the dispute is vested in the disputing parties themselves rather than a third party (arbitrator).

A natural person may be appointed as mediator and is subject to the requirements of impartiality, expertise and liability for his/her actions. It should be noted that the disputing parties may appoint virtually any person to act as mediator, provided that they both have trust in this person. Depending on the agreement, the mediator may provide services for free or for a fee. The disputing parties also agree on the form and procedure of dispute settlement.

It is very important to note that the special period of limitation is suspended during mediation. Therefore, even if the parties fail to resolve their dispute amicably, they retain the right to apply to court to seek relief.

If the disputing parties succeed in resolving their dispute amicably with the help of a mediator, they enter into an amicable agreement. This agreement, approved by court under a simplified procedure, may be enforced.

The Law also stipulates one of the fundamental principles of mediation, i.e. confidentiality, which means that the disputing parties and mediators must keep all mediation and related information confidential. This provision ensures that no information disclosed during mediation could be used against the disclosing party, except where such non-disclosure of information is in conflict with the public interest.

The availability of mediation, an alternative dispute resolution form, to disputing parties should reduce the workload of courts. Moreover, mediation usually ensures a speedier resolution of civil disputes compared to judicial procedures and parties incur lower dispute settlement costs. Mediation also increases the likelihood of restoration of both legal and social peace in every specific case. For these advantages, mediation, as an alternative dispute resolution form, is promoted and fostered in a number of EU member states.

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